An online reputation crisis can inflict serious damage on your company’s reputation. Yet the scale of this damage depends on how quickly your firm reacts to limit the impact of an online reputation crisis.
Trust and reputation
Pitney Bowes’ Role of Trust in Consumer Relationships report indicates that trust drives between 22% and 44% of customer loyalty. This is vital for your business, as customer loyalty ensures you generate a profit. You build consumer trust by cultivating a positive reputation as a reliable business. A 2014 World Economics Survey indicated that 25% of a firm’s value can be attributed to its reputation.
It’s particularly important to cultivate a positive reputation online. Google is the most popular search engine, therefore what appears on the first page of a Google search for your company’s name impacts how consumers see you. Also, social media sites are more popular than ever, with the BBC reporting that Facebook recently recorded one billion users in just one day, for the first time.
This is supported by a range of statistics. Figures collated by AdWeek show that 74% of consumers rely on social media to influence purchasing decisions, whilst 81% are influenced by their friends’ social media posts when making a purchasing decision. This is why a recent Igniyte survey of 500 business owners indicated that 88% believe that a positive online reputation is important to consumers.
Damage of online reputation crisis
If your company becomes embroiled in a PR crisis, it’ll significantly damage your reputation online. The crisis will catch the attention of prominent bloggers, social media communities and news outlets. Because of the amount of traffic these sites receive, Google sees these as trusted sources of information, meaning they’re likely to rank on the first page of a Google search for your name. If your potential consumers see this unwanted content, it’ll damage your reputation. They’ll no longer trust you and this could be disastrous for your business.
Statistics gathered by Infinicontact suggest that 91% of unhappy customers, ones who no longer trust your company, will never do business with your organisation again. These statistics also indicate that 45% of consumers share negative customer’s experiences on social media. Therefore if a PR crisis strikes, it will be shared online, damage your reputation and consumers will desert your company.
The Ashley Madison hack
The obvious example is the Ashley Madison hack. The Ashley Madison website – which people use to engage in discrete affairs – was recently hacked by an unidentified group of hackers calling themselves the Impact Team. They dumped, as Igniyte recently discussed, 9.7 gigabytes of Ashley Madison data, containing the personal information of roughly 32 million users, onto the dark web.
Avid Life Media, the owner of Ashley Madison, hasn’t been able to stem the flood of bad press. The incident caught the attention of international news outlets. The fact that the personal information of prominent people, such as SNP MP Michelle Thomson, was leaked made it worse. Now, according to Yahoo News, experts suggest that people have grounds to sue Ashley Madison and people are seriously considering it. If you Google Ashley Madison now the first page of the search is littered with unwanted content.
Limit the damage
Yet if you limit the damage of a crisis situation, you can safeguard your company’s reputation online. We can look at the recent indecent involving the Jessica Alba co-owned Honest Company to see how this works in practice.
As Igniyte previously discussed, consumers recently took to social media to complain about Honest Company’s sunscreen product. After fumbling, Jessica Alba limited the damage to Honest Company’s reputation online by taking to her blog to post a touching apology letter. The tactic worked; scores of the Honest Company’s satisfied customers took to their social media accounts to defend the business.
How to limit the damage
This proves that if you have a crisis management strategy, you can safeguard your company’s reputation online should a crisis strike. Here are a few essential crisis management tips your company can utilise to protect its reputation online:
- Get pre-emptive: If you implement pre-emptive measures, you can give the first page of your search term on Google the strength it needs to survive an online reputation crisis. This is why your firm should create, optimise and use online assets such as social media accounts on a consistent basis.
- Set up alerts: You can also pre-empt an online reputation crisis by setting up alerts such as Google alerts. These will allow you to monitor content surrounding your company’s name, so you’ll be able to react to an online reputation crisis as soon as it occurs, to limit the damage.
- React accordingly: Whatever you do, don’t make an online reputation crisis worse. If you react inappropriately or respond on social media without thinking, you’ll cause more unwanted content to appear on the first page of a Google search for your business’ name.
- Generate PR: We mentioned earlier that Google sees news outlets as trusted sources of information. Use this to your advantage and generate positive PR for your company. This will safeguard the opening page of a Google search for your firm’s name in the event of an online reputation crisis.
- Engage with consumers: The most important thing to do is get out there and engage consumers. You won’t make the problem go away if you don’t respond. Follow Alba’s example and think your response through, so you can rally the consumer support you need to see off an online reputation crisis.
The Ashley Madison hack has made it clearer than ever that a crisis can damage your firm’s online reputation. Yet if you implement a crisis management strategy, like Honest Company, you can limit the damage and safeguard your firm’s reputation online.
If you want to find out more about Igniyte’s crisis management services please contact Caroline Skipsey on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email [email protected] in confidence.